The first time I traveled to Manchester in the UK was about 35 years ago and to be honest I was not impressed. It was a large grey city that seemed out of place in England dotted with quaint towns and villages. I have traveled to Manchester quite a few times since then and it has changed quite a bit. Made up of over a million residents in the city proper and a few million more living in the Greater Manchester Area, the “capital of the north” is massive. Outside of its world-renowned sporting events, the city is now a hub of cool and fun. The history of the area lends itself to gorgeous architecture and a thriving hub of culture, student life, shopping, and eating. Sandwiched between Liverpool and Leeds, the city’s look stems from the 1800s when it became one of the world’s biggest commercial centers for cotton production. The massive wealth the city saw during this time led to the city expanding and many of Manchester’s iconic red-brick heritage buildings are from the era.
The city of Manchester is massive and offers plenty of options when it comes to dining. The sheer massive size of the city and its demographics means that you can have something new every day and not repeat the same meal twice. While it’s certainly worth seeing what the city has to offer, you’d be amiss if you didn’t venture out further and see what the suburbs have to offer as well. If you’re looking to grab a bite, check out some of these best places to eat in Manchester.
The Sparrows is cool and quaint. It’s effectively the embodiment of everything the new age of Manchester has to offer. Serving handmade European dumplings and pasta dishes from around the continent, The Sparrows serves traditionally lower-class food in a fashionable setting. The spot is warm and charming and the food is even better. Handmade German spätzle or Polish pierogies are popular options and all are served with a variety of different toppings and flavors from different regions around Europe. Alsatian and Southern Tyrolean spätzle sits on the menu next to traditional Russian pelmeni and iconically Italian ravioli.
To go along with all the delicious carb-loaded tastiness, wash it down with a selection of French, Italian, or Austrian wine. Or perhaps a Japanese sake or Swiss craft beer.
If you’re looking to splurge on some amazing locally sourced food, Hawksmoor is the spot. Located on Deansgate and opened in 2015, Hawksmoor has an original location in London. The name of the game here is steak. But not just any steak, the food at Hawksmoor is sourced from local producers, and the attention to detail is second to none. You’ll have your choice of cut from the porterhouse to T-bone. Start with a creamy and tangy caesar salad and indulge in one of their many finely crafted cocktails.
If beef is not to your liking, check out this extensive menu of seafood items. Ethically sourced scallops seared in garlic butter and wine or the U.K sourced monkfish grilled over charcoal with a side of triple-cooked extra crispy chips. The atmosphere here is a classic steakhouse with dark wood interior paneling and modern-yet-cozy mood lighting.
The Little Aladdin cafe
Sometimes traveling can be expensive and when you’re a vegetarian looking for a cheap bite, it might take a little research to find the right place. Luckily for you, The Little Aladdin has you covered. Serving some amazing curries and Indian specialties, what you’ll get here is a little taste of home cooking for as little as £10. If you are a vegetarian, you’ll feel right at home with appetizers, entrees, and desserts that are all vegetarian-friendly, and if you’re not a vegetarian, their range of kebab options costs as little as £5. The Little Aladdin cafe is home to authentic Indian flavors that don’t break the bank.
Outside of Italy, Rudy’s Pizza might be home to some of the best pizza in the world. According to the book Where to Eat Pizza, Rudy’s Pizza ranks as one of the best, and what started as a simple little pop-up pizza shop became an international phenomenon. Rudy’s Pizza grew essentially from just word-of-mouth and if you’re wondering what makes Rudy’s so special; it’s the dough. Every day Rudy’s Pizza makes their own dough, handmade and they ferment for up to 24 hours. Then it’s tossed into their wood-burning pizza oven for up to 60 seconds. That might sound like a short time to cook a pizza but the blazing hot oven takes care of that. The result becomes a unique soft and light slice, with just a little saucy-cheesy mixture in the middle.
With affordable prices and lineups going around the block. Rudy’s Pizza is affordable, delicious, and worth the wait.
Mana is Avant-guard and an experience, unlike one you’ve probably ever had elsewhere. Since 1977, there hasn’t been a Michelin-starred restaurant in Manchester until Mana opened its doors. The ethos behind Mana is an exploration of the British Isles and what it has to offer. Dishes and produce change often with the seasons and so does the menu at Mana.
The open kitchen allows guests to partake in the culinary experience and watch what goes on behind the scenes. Dishes include experimental flavors such as reindeer moss and nixtamalized corn broth. Naturally, the menu might not be everyone’s cup of broth but culinarily adventurous, you’re paying for the experience. You also might have to wait for said experience as they only take bookings, and spots fill up very fast. If you plan on visiting, you might want to plan your trip around your reservation.
Mana might be the hip and innovative restaurant everyone’s trying to get into but sometimes you just want to grab a pint with some friends and snack on some finger food. Bundobust Manchester brings the best of German beer halls and marries it to the U.K food culture. Winning “Restaurant of the Year” in 2017 by Manchester Food and Drink Festival, Bundobust Manchester offers a stellar menu and a long list of beers to enjoy.
The space is huge so you’ll never have to worry about finding a spot to eat and if you’re into making some new mates, grab a shared table and mingle with the crowd. Local breweries have their goods on tap along with a selection of Bundobust’s own home-brewed ales. When it comes to the food, think of a mix of Spanish tapas and Indian street food. Small portions of shareable plates going for £4-6 that feature items like samosas, okra fries, and crispy Mumbai-style veggie burgers.
Where the Light Gets In
For the unpicky meat eaters out there, you’ll love Where the Light Gets In. Winning awards for the best sustainable restaurant, Where the Light Gets In aims to be a fine-dining establishment without the pretentiousness of a fine-dining restaurant. The restaurant doesn’t adhere to conventional rules of fine dining. For one thing, there’s no menu. You’re served whatever the catch, slaughter, and harvest of the day are. When it comes to drinks, the list of wines consists of small-batch wines from esoteric vineyards.
You need to have a bit of an open mind when you’re dining here because you don’t really know what you’re going to get, and that’s part of the charm. Previous menu items have included chestnuts foraged from the nearby forest, lemony sprats with curd-topped scrap of poppadom, and deep-fried slivers of bull’s testicles.
Tattu Restaurant & Bar
Taking the concept of Chinese food and elevating it to a modern and new level is what Tattu Restaurant & Bar is all about. Not only is the food at Tattu incredible but the atmosphere of the restaurant will have you taking out your phone and snapping a few pics for your Instagram. A large influence of the design is Asian-style tattoos and the themes that go along with those traditions are apparent throughout the space. The downstairs dining area is steeped with dark tones, dark woods, deep-seated booths, and nautical-themed accouterments like anchors hang above the ceiling. Cherry blossom trees and an elegant lit-up staircase will surely make you stop in your tracks.
The atmosphere here is amazing and the food matches that. Innovative-yet-familiar “Chinese” dishes like wild mushroom eggroll and black cod with saffron are delicious. Wash it down with one of their Asian-inspired cocktails such as the Lucky Shui made with gin, Chinese vermouth, and guava, or the Light & Miscellany made with rum, pineapple, and Asian pear.
England’s fascination with Indian food is never-ending and the people behind Mughli serve some of the best in Manchester. Located on the aptly named “Curry Mile”, the street is home to several of Manchester’s best and busiest South-Asian restaurants.
Mughli takes the best of modern flavors and style but doesn’t hold back when it comes to authentic flavors and traditional plates. The social-media-savvy and contemporary restaurateurs behind Mughli were amongst some of the first in the area to modernize their space and ditch the usual decor flock wallpaper decor of other Indian restaurants in the area.
The result is authentic and traditional Indian street food and a healthy mix of British curry house classics that deliver on deliciousness bite after bite. A well-chosen list of wines and spiced cocktails only adds to the overall experience, so splurge on a cocktail or a bottle.
Stripped back and minimalist is what Tokyo Ramen is all about. Tokyo Ramen is open only three days a week; Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and the space is small. With only enough room to sit around 20 people at a time, the restaurant operates on walk-ins only. It’s more utilitarian than a place where you’re going to sit around and chit-chat after your meal. Which in a way, adds to its authenticity. Modeling itself after the ramen bars of Tokyo where simplicity in sitting, eating, and leaving is the norm, Tokyo Ramen leans on that same ethos.
Despite its simplicity, the ramen here is some of the best in the city. The menu consists of a small selection of drinks, and a small selection of ramen – usually only three options to choose from. The no-nonsense menu means that what Tokyo Ramen does serve aims to be the best, and some might say it is. The 10-hour chicken bone broth simmers at all hours while their mushroom Dashi vegan option is just as, if not, even better. Wash it down with an ice-cold Sapporo beer and leave feeling full and satisfied.
While there are already a few Spanish and tapas joints around the city, Baratxuri specifically leans on the Basque side of things. What makes Baratxuri noteworthy is that almost all of their food is imported straight from Spain including their amazing milk-fed lamb, octopus, Galician beef, and Txuleton rib steak.
Furthermore not only is a large portion of their food imported but their dining room is essentially straight from the Basque country. Everything from their bar top to their central wood-fired Asado oven is sourced directly from Spain. Spanish wines pair flawlessly with every plate and the tableside meat carving is a show in itself.
Our Final Word
Manchester has truly become a foodie destination. With great restaurants and cafes, Manchester is a hub of fun and culture and should not be overlooked on your trip to the UK.